The People’s Democratic Party has refuted Punch Newspaper’s report in which it claimed the party demands 12 million Naira for Presidential nomination and expression of interest, saying the party does not have a guideline yet for its primaries, even though Punch claimed it “exclusively” saw a document it titled “Electoral Guideline for the PDP, Directorate of Organisation and Mobilisation”.
The June 17 report breaks down the payment as 2 million for expression of interest and 10 million for nomination, claiming that female aspirants are however to pay for just expression of interest while the 10 million for nomination is waived.
It claimed that the document was signed by the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and the National Secretary of the party, Senator Umaru Tsauri.
But the PDP, reacting to the story says, through a statement issued by its National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobundu, on Sunday in Abuja, that its guidelines for 2019 presidential primary election were not yet ready.
Mr. Akobundu said it became necessary to clarify this following a publication by a national daily titled “PDP list guidelines for presidential aspirants, demands N12m for forms.” This was the title of the Punch’s report.
“We wish to state categorically that the party is still in the process of drawing up the guidelines for its presidential primary election. It is therefore misleading to claim that the party has ‘listed its guidelines’ not to talk of the cost of nomination forms. At the appropriate time the proposals will be presented to NEC of the party which will approve as it deems fit. Only then can one say that it has the guidelines for the 2018 presidential primary election.”
The statement, however, fell short of addressing how true the plans stated in the Punch report was, as it only claimed there were no guidelines yet, which could simply be a reference to the proper procedure not having been followed and may not mean the document obtained by Punch is not a tentative plan.
An element of truth?
An ETN24 report on how the cost of election pose a greater threat to younger candidates than the earlier age restriction, detailed how in 2017, the Senate amended the Electoral Act and limited the cost of nomination ticket on aspirants by a Political Party.
By the new amendment, Parties can no longer impose arbitrary nomination fees on political aspirants.
The bill fixed prescribes limits for each elective office as follows:
(a) N150,000 for a Ward Councillorship aspirant in the FCT;
(b) N250,000 for an area Council Chairmanship aspirant in the FCT;
(c) N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant;
(d) N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant;
(e) N2,000,000 for a Senatorial aspirant;
(f) N5,000,000 for a Governorship aspirant; and
(g) N10,000,000 for a Presidential aspirant.
That the 10 million mark for Presidential aspirant happens to be the same amount the PDP is said to be charging, and the fact that the PDP’s statement did not clearly deny the content of the report, makes the report hard to totally dismiss.
A moral case or suing flu
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), argues that nomination forms should not be commercialized saying
“It is illegal and prohibitive to collect nomination forms. When you do that, you are excluding people from participating in the democratic process,”
Mr. Falana, who threatened to take the political parties to court, however, rather strangely, quoted a case from 2003, which was 14 years before the amendment.
“In 2003, INEC attempted to collect money for nomination forms. Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi led us to court and the court held that it was illegal and unconstitutional to collect nomination forms, after we had dragged not fewer than seven to eight state governments to court over money for nomination forms for LG elections.”
He lamented that this will happen years after President Muhammadu Buhari lamented the high cost of nomination form which Mr. Buhari bought, as an aspirant, for 25 million. He suggested nothing has happened to change this situation since Buhari has been President.
Mr. Falana did not appear to have taken into account the fact that electoral law amendment in this period has made this figure impossible for any party to fix, by far over 50%.